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5 Ways for Artists to Sustain A Professional Relationship

Article By: Luciano Martinez

Sustaining a professional relationship is not an easy task. Much like personal relationships, one must maintain a positive attitude and environment in order to sustain a mutual working relationship.

Many artists tend to work alone and get used to their daily routines that they have created for themselves. Unfortunately, that is not enough. Artist must often reach out and continue to make connections with magazine editors, collaborators, collectors, and galleriests in hopes that their new work will be seen and exhibited. One of the downsides of working alone is that one begins to lose touch with the outside world and what seems like a week of limited human contact can easily become a month. There are a few ways you can maintain a professional working relationship with your current contacts without the necessities of constant socializing.

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Lets Stay In Touch!

The following are a few ways an artist can stay in touch with all those professionals they have long worked to have on their contact list. Don’t allow yourself to lose all that legwork by taking a contact for granted or keeping them out of the loop of what you are currently doing. There are many more ways to sustain a professional relationship, but this should give you a great start. Make them part of your bi-monthly schedule and you will have a solid foundation in a thriving creative circle.

1) Be Appropriate
When working with a professional, keep your conversations appropriate especially when you are going through various personal life situations. It’s normal to want to share your life experiences but make sure you are limiting the amount of information given. Even though you want your boss/curator/galleriest/editor to know that you are human being with problems or concerns like everyone else, you do not want them to get the idea that your life is chaotic and unmanageable therefore affecting your professional work. Over sharing could put professional relationship in jeopardy.

2) Be Professional
I have mentioned this in past articles and I cannot stress it enough. Be professional and get the work done – no matter what. If you are given a deadline, make sure you deliver on time. Your “boss”, whomever that may be, may give you an extension on your deadline if they are given enough notice to prepare for its delay. So give them that opportunity to do so. Be respectful of their time, they will love you for your thoughtfulness. Beware of asking for extensions regularly. This could come off as unprofessional and unmanageable therefore ending your current professional relationship and leaving a bad impression on your working habits.

3) Be Transparent
Mean what you say and say what you mean. Many people have the ability to see right through a charade and can point out the real reason why you are contacting them. Get straight to the point. Many professionals would rather hear you say that you want a job than have a day full of passive aggressive emails.

4) Do Not Take It Personally
In this line of work and career, you have to constantly remind yourself to not take things personally. If you do not get the job you inquired about or you were not included in a group art show, do not let yourself get carried away in an emotional rollercoaster. Holding unresolved feelings towards a professional contact can spoil future work with them. Instead of going through all of these scenarios in your head on why you did not get these opportunities remind yourself that this is business and you should not take it personally. There are many variables in a decision and there is no real way of knowing why one chooses one person over another. Dust yourself off and move onto the next opportunity. This will not only help your sanity, but also keep you and your client in good standing. Keeping a professional relationship in good standing may lead to a great opportunity later in the year.

5) Drop A Note
This is very important in sustaining a professional relationship. Many artists have this idea that they are “troubling” a professional contact by dropping them a note every couple of months. But follow-ups are very necessary in maintaining a presence in a current work relationship. Professionals have much to do and cannot check up on every artist they are interested in. A simple 4-sentence email two times a year is very acceptable. Make sure you are using emails to only update a contact on your current projects or shows. Do not use a professional contact’s to email them spam or your newsletter unless they asked you to. It would be career suicide if you keep spamming a contact’s professional work email.

Being a professional artist takes constant work. Most artists have day jobs and the only time one has for art is on those odd hours when one can’t sleep at night or on days off. These small ways of keeping a professional contact in the loop of your current whereabouts will ensure that your hard work is not in vain. When you think about your contacts, think of them as a fine tuned engine. Without check ups and maintenance, it will fall apart and stop running. Don’t let your contacts fall short because a lack of maintenance.

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